What Newly Released Books Are Trending in 2019? Don’t Miss This Must-Read Novel!

Lining up your next summer read? Lisa See’s newest novel, The Island of Sea Women, is a sweeping saga of friendship and family loyalty. Not to mention, it’s one of our favorite new releases.

So what’s it all about?

If you’re familiar with the bestselling New York Times author, See’s previous novels take place in China or in Chinese communities in the US. But The Island of Sea Women is set on Korea’s Jeju Island.

Like her other novels, though, See explores complex connections and loyalties between friends—and the bond between mothers and daughters.

On Jeju Island, women divers, called haenyeo, were their families’ primary earners. Older haenyeo teach the young girls to freedive, harvest shellfish, catch sealife, and survive in the changeable ocean.

The imaginative setting here is completely engaging. As a reader, you’ll be introduced to a unique Jeju lifestyle of specific skills and customs… and a dangerously appealing undersea world. The haenyeo survive in difficult times by relying on their community, their skills, and the sea’s resources.

Throughout the book, we return to this theme of hardworking women, gaining personal agency, and family security in challenging times.

Let’s talk about the characters. When the story begins, Young-sook, and her friend Mi-ja, are some of the youngest trainees. Beyond that, the story follows their relationship for decades.

Young-sook is the daughter of a skilled diver. When her mother agrees to take Mi-Ja into their collective and train her as well, it seems like they’ll work side-by-side. Just as previous generations of Jeju women have done.

But the Japanese occupation of Korea disrupts their lives and relationships on Jeju. As Japanese-Korean relationships twist and turn, having family connections to the occupiers is alternately a blessing and a curse.

The novel shows how Mi-ja tries to navigate her family background and then her husband’s background in a shifting political situation.

Without giving any spoilers, the novel tells of historically accurate, but brutal exploitation.

What’s more, you’ll learn about a horrific conflict between Japanese soldiers and starving Korean civilians. The war changes the patterns of Korean life—for both women—long after the conflict is over.

As always, Lisa See introduces vibrant, complex characters, with ties of loyalty and friends. What makes this novel such a page-turner is how See’s story introduces them into situations without clear solutions.

All in all, readers will enjoy seeing Mi-ja and Young-sook evolve over decades and generations. Click here to check out the book!

5 Captivating Historical Mystery Books That Will Thrill You

5 Captivating Historical Mystery Books That Will Thrill You

Don’t you love reading a book that keeps you on the edge of your seat?

A well-executed historical mystery blends a colorful, distant setting with page-turning suspense for some of the ultimate escapist reads. Here are some of our favorite historical mysteries.

The Cadfael Chronicles

A Morbid Taste for Bones - Book Cover with a Cross

The Cadfael Chronicles, by Ellis Peters, tells the story of medieval monk, Brother Cadfael, at Shrewsbury Abbey, in Wales.

The first novel, A Morbid Taste for Bones, shows Brother Cadfael leaving his herb garden and apothecary to solve a complicated mystery. In each story, the monk’s attention to detail, knowledge of herbs, and understanding of human nature lead him to the correct solutions.

To be honest, there’s a bit of gore in these novels. But the accounts of saints’ relics and wound examination were so interesting that I didn’t much mind it. Peters, a pen name of Edith Pargeter, wrote twenty novels about Brother Cadfael in all.

(And if you like seeing a book come to life on-screen, there’s a charming British TV series based on the books that stars Derek Jacobi!)

 

Murder At The Fitzwilliam

Murder at the Fitzwilliam - Book Cover - Man Standing on Stairs

Murder At The Fitzwilliam by Jim Eldridge begins when former inspector Daniel Wilson is summoned to investigate a corpse found in an ancient Egyptian coffin. A recent corpse, that is.

And when a second one appears soon after, also in the Egyptian wing, supernatural theories abound. The descriptions of academic rivalries, the Egyptian craze, and Cambridge geography were perfect (even if a minor romantic subplot is a bit underwhelming).

Right now, this is a standalone mystery… but stay tuned. The sequel is due out this year.

SQQR  I: The Kings Gambit

SQPR Book Cover - The King's Gambit

In John Maddox Roberts’ SPQR series, Roman sleuth Decius Metellus finds himself caught up in murder mysteries no matter where he goes. Trouble always finds him. Whether he’s being summoned to the Palatine by the ruling Julio-Claudians… or hiding out in exile after getting mixed up in an unsavory mystery.

The intricacies of Roman customs and politics make up the background of these stories. They’re set in some of the most dramatic years of Roman history.

Not to mention, the thirteen novels in this series span Decius Metellus’ life. So there’s time for a lot of character development in these novels — you’ll enjoy meeting minor characters again in later novels.

 

Murder on the Orient Express

Sure, Murder on the Orient Express wasn’t written as historical fiction, but the accounts of international travel on an overnight train are sure to pull you back in time.

This classic novel plays with some of the conventions of the locked-door mystery, making it even more fun for mystery fans. As always, Poirot uses his careful powers of observation and deductive reasoning to see through lies and misdirection.

Also, this novel has some of the most memorable characters in an Agatha Christie mystery.

 

The Chef’s Secret

The Chef's Secret Book Cover with Plate of Produce

In The Chef’s Secret, by Crystal King, a chef’s apprentice is left with his Uncle Bartolomeo’s recipes and his diary. Including the instructions that he burn the diary unread.

Naturally, nephew Giovanni does no such thing. I mean, would you?

Giovanni starts to investigate his uncle’s past and his secret love, unlocking a story of murder, vendetta, secret babies, theft, revenge, and more murder. It’s not a typical whodunit, with one murder to wrap up.

Instead, readers are pulled along as Giovanni unravels a lifetime of secrets. This is also a wonderful foodie tour of renaissance Italy, as both uncle and nephew are skilled chefs.

Do you have a favorite historical mystery? Let us know!

6 Must-Read Books to Celebrate Black History Month

6 Must-Read Books to Celebrate Black History Month: Young Lady Standing in Front of a Bookshelf

Black History Month honors the diversity and history of African-American culture. This selection of books is a mix of historical fiction, literary fiction, and biographies to kick off a month of celebration and legacy. Let’s dive into the titles.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

6 Must-Read Books to Celebrate Black History Month

If you haven’t had a chance to read this bestselling YA novel yet, you’ll want to get your hands on a copy. This novel is packed with heartbreaking references that feel thoughtful and strangely familiar. In fact, The Hate U Give was just made into a movie that was released in October 2018 to critical acclaim.

The Hate U Give is a fiction story — but it’s a timely one and the book feels like was based on real events. The story follows a 16-year-old named Starr Carter, who becomes a young activist after witnessing a cop murder her childhood friend, Kahlil.

 

Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley

6 Must-Read Books to Celebrate Black History Month: Roots by Alex Haley Cover

Roots was first published in the 1970s, and the wildly successful novel soon transformed into a very famous television miniseries in 1977. Beyond that, the final episode of the miniseries still holds the record for the third-highest-rated episode in TV history.

Why did it become such a phenomenon? Well, Roots was not only popular, but it was a monumental story.

Alex Haley grew up in Tennessee, where his grandmother told him stories about his family. In this case, her stories went back generations, all the way to Colonial America when Haley’s family was captured and forced over here from West Africa on a slave ship.

So Haley decided to embark on a decade-long detective search to trace the origin of his heritage, and this is the haunting story of his family.

 

Black Enough: Stories of Being Young and Black in America by Ibi Zoboi

6 Must-Read Books to Celebrate Black History Month: Cover of Black Enough

This anthology is a collection of short stories about black teenagers growing up in the US, but everyone can gain something out of reading it. These incredible stories share events that were shaped by many different upbringings and experiences growing up black.

You’ll find tales from the perspective of being biracial, gay, wealthy, and creative. There are struggles with mental health. Some are difficult to read because of the subject matter, while other stories are heartwarming. All of them are important.

 

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

6 Must-Read Books to Celebrate Black History Month: Hidden Figures Cover

I saw the movie before I read the book, but I was eager to read this one and learn more about the untold stories of these women. If you haven’t heard of it yet, Hidden Figures is the true story of four black female mathematicians who worked for NASA during the Space Race and WWII.

These women did their calculations by hand as they were segregated from their white coworkers. And their contributions were largely ignored for over fifty years, until the release of this book.

 

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

6 Must-Read Books to Celebrate Black History Month: Born a Crime Cover

Are you a fan of Trevor Noah from The Daily Show? This New York Times bestseller is a collection of eighteen personal essays that share his upbringing in apartheid South Africa to how he landed his role on The Daily Show today.

Born to a white father and a black mother in the midst of apartheid, Trevor Noah was considered a criminal act in South Africa. And his powerful memoir is a story you just can’t put down. It’s funny, moving, and surprising. There are moments that will horrify you… and moments that will touch your heart.

 

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

6 Must-Read Books to Celebrate Black History Month: Sing, Unburied, Sing Cover

This haunting fiction novel takes place in the soul of Mississippi, where 13-year-old Jojo and his little sister have been raised by their grandparents.

Their mother, Leonie, weaves in and out of their lives due to her drug addiction. She’s haunted by the ghost of her brother who was murdered 15 years earlier — he appears when she uses. You get a glimpse into both of their minds, as the book shifts back and forth between the perspective of both Leonie and Jojo during a particular road trip.

Becoming Michelle Obama: 5 Details Revealed in Her Memoir

Becoming Michelle Obama: 5 Details Revealed in her Memoir - Book Cover

Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming just dropped onto bookshelves a couple of days ago, but it’s already become a #1 national bestseller. In fact, the highly anticipated book grabbed the most pre-order sales of any new release since 2015.

So, what will you discover in the former first lady’s intimate book?

Let’s take a peek inside the pages. Here are five personal details from Michelle Obama’s life before and after her time in the White House — all revealed inside Becoming.

 

1. Michelle once snuck out of the White House.

With her daughter Malia by her side, Michelle snuck out of their presidential home after the Supreme Court made the decision to legalize gay marriage. Why? They wanted to see the White House displayed in rainbow lights. The only problem was they couldn’t get past the locked doors until some staff members helped them find an exit.

 

2. She has some opinions about President Donald Trump.

Michelle shares several thoughts on Donald Trump, including the one thing she’ll never excuse: questioning Barack Obama’s birth certificate.  “Donald Trump, with his loud and reckless innuendos, was putting my family’s safety at risk. And for this, I’d never forgive him,” she explains.

 

3. What wearing that custom-made Jason Wu gown to the inaugural ball meant to her:

“The dress resurrected the dreaminess of my family’s metamorphosis, the promise of this entire experience, transforming me if not into a full-blown ballroom princess, then at least into a woman capable of climbing onto another stage. I was now FLOTUS — First Lady of the United States — to Barack’s POTUS. It was time to celebrate.”

 

4. Michelle opens up about her painful struggle to have children.

In her memoir, Michelle writes about the difficulty she faced in becoming pregnant and the IVF process that followed.

“We were trying to get pregnant and it wasn’t going well. We had one pregnancy test come back positive, which caused us both to forget every worry and swoon with joy, but a couple of weeks later I had a miscarriage, which left me physically uncomfortable and cratered any optimism we felt.”

 

5. Her marriage takes work too.

Even though they might look like the perfect couple from afar, the Obamas are proof that every marriage has its ups and down. Michelle digs into the details about how she attended marriage counseling with her husband to work through some of their issues. Initially, he was against seeing a therapist and thought it seemed dramatic.

But as Michelle tell us, it later turned out to be an incredible turning point in their relationship.

It turns out they’re more like us than we thought.

You might be wondering if the former first lady addresses her future in politics. Will Michelle ever run for the presidency? Well, if you’ve been waiting for a Michelle in 2020 campaign, we have some bad news to tell you.

According to the Washington Post, “I’ve never been a fan of politics, and my experience over the last ten years has done little to change that. I continue to be put off by the nastiness,” she stated.

In the meantime, you can pick up a copy of Michelle Obama’s memoir right here at Textbook Nova.

7 Good Beach Reads for Summer 2018

7 Good Beach Reads for Summer 2018

Ready to escape the “real world” this summer?

Whether you’re prepping for your next beach vacation or headed to your friend’s backyard pool, nothing beats resting by the water with a good book in hand.

We’ve rounded up some brand new releases (and a couple of classics) to take along with you this year on summer vacation.

Let’s take a look at some of the best summer reads of all time.

 

1. The Perfect Couple – by Elin Hilderbrand

7 Good Beach Reads for Summer 2018

Elin Hilderbrandoften referred to as “The Queen of the Summer Beach Read”is releasing her latest novel just in time for your summer break this year.

The story starts out with your typical wedding season in Nantucket. But right before the ceremony starts? The soon-to-be bride is murdered and suddenly everyone in the wedding ceremony has become a potential suspect. Hilderbrand’s new book has it all, from mystery and suspense to romance.

 

2. The High Season – by Judy Blundell

7 Good Beach Reads for Summer 2018

Looking for a book full of laughs? Judy Blundell’s new release is packed with both drama and entertainment.

(If you’re an Elin Hilderbrand fan, you’ll probably enjoy unwinding with this book as well.)

The story follows Ruthie Beamish, a divorced mom with a house in the Hamptons. She rents her beach house to guests each summer so she can continue to afford her beloved home.

Meanwhile, a new guest arrives this year that threatens to steal Ruthie’s entire lifeincluding her friends, family, and ex-husband.

 

3. The High Tide Club – by Mary Kay Andrews

7 Good Beach Reads for Summer 2018

This book became an immediate New York Times bestseller when it was released last month.

Are you intrigued by scandal and tales from the glamorous era of dinner parties in the 1940s? You’ll definitely want to take this one along with you on your next trip. Nothing beats the fabulous stories from this bygone era.

Mary Kay Andrews is known for her great summer beach reads, and the story of Josephine Warrickthe eccentric 90-year-old heiressis no exception.

 

4. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine: A Novel – by Gail Honeyman

7 Good Beach Reads for Summer 2018

Eleanor Oliphant doesn’t care who it isshe doesn’t want to socialize with anyone.

And she’s perfectly okay with that.

The protagonist of Gail Honeyman’s novel is a relatable character for anyone who has ever felt like they’re the epitome of awkward moments or saying the wrong thing.

Reese Witherspoon is a huge fan of this one! You’ll notice she recommended the novel for her book club pick, but Reese loved it some much she’s planned to turn it into a major movie release.

 

6. When Life Gives You Lululemons – by Lauren Weisberger

7 Good Beach Reads for Summer 2018

Remember the hit The Devil Wears Prada? Lauren Weisberger authored the infamous book that became the wildly popular filming starring Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway.

She’s back this summer with her latest book…and it follows one of Lauren’s favorite characters from The Devil Wears Prada: ex-assistant Emily Charlton.

Emily has moved on from the world of Vogue to run a PR firm in Hollywood, but she’s run out of clients and needs to sign a new one. Fast. Except after she signs up to represent A-list supermodel Karolina, Emily discovers her latest client is full of shocking behavior and scandal.

 

7. Surprise Me – by Sophie Kinsella

7 Good Beach Reads for Summer 2018

Ever felt like you’ve been in a relationship rut? That’s what happens to Sylvie and Dan.

They’ve been married for 10 years when they start to realize their relationship has is sliding down the slippery slope of TOO comfortable territory.

Fearing they’re at the beginning of a boring marriage, Sylvie and Dan decide to start surprising each other. This light-hearted novel is packed with silliness and humoronce their little surprises start to backfire.

 

7. Tell Me Lies – by Carola Lovering

7 Good Beach Reads for Summer 2018
Excited to finally break free from the home where she grew up, Lucy Albright decides to embrace the wild rollercoaster ride of college life.

It’s everything she had been hoping for…but things quickly turn chaotic when she meets Stephen DeMarco.

They fall for each other fast. However, Lucy knows he’s hiding something. What could Stephen’s big secret be? You’ll have to take this book with you to find out.

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